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Pokémon Go Helps Local Boy Through Leukemia

12-year-old Naqi Dar talks about his cancer journey and how Pokémon Go helped him through his diagnosis and treatment.

Category: Pediatrics

This past February, Naqi was enjoying his mid-winter break on a road trip vacation to Florida with his family. They report having a great trip. However, on their way back home that would all change.

“When we started the trip back, my knee really started to bother me. I thought it might have been a joint issue since I was cramped up in a car,” said Naqi. “But when we got to Virginia, it hurt so much that I couldn’t walk on it.”

His family noticed that he wasn’t his usual energetic self. “He was in a lot of pain, so when we got back home, I took him to get checked out at the emergency room near us,” said Denyse Dar, Naqi’s mother.

After his x-rays came back negative, Naqi was sent home and told to stay off of it and that it should clear up in a few days. But it didn’t.

Life-Changing Diagnosis

“It just wasn’t getting any better, so I took him to his primary care physician and asked them to do blood work,” said Denyse. “The next day, they called and said it was a good thing that we did because his numbers were really off. After that, they made an emergency appointment for the next day at Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield.” 

Naqi didn't made it to his appointment.

“That night at about 1 am, he spiked a high fever and I couldn’t get it down so I took him to the emergency department at Baystate Franklin Medical Center,” said Denyse.

Shortly after he arrived, Naqi was transported by ambulance to Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield, where the staff worked through the night to reduce his fever. They also ran some tests, including blood work and a bone marrow sample, to determine his diagnosis.

“Not long after we got the diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia,” said Denyse.

Road to Recovery

Once he was stabilized, Naqi prepared for his treatment plan, including chemotherapy. Knowing the road he had ahead, Denyse did everything she could do to help him through the healing process.

“Nutrition is a big thing to me so I started him on an alkaline diet to try and support the treatment he was receiving,” said Denyse. “I believe changing him to this alkaline diet along with the amazing care he received at Baystate Children’s Hospital is what contributed to him being in remission 36 days after his diagnosis,” she added.

Naqi’s mom also made it a point to allow him to be a kid.

“Being sick and in the hospital can really take a lot out of an adult, never mind a child,” said Denyse. “When he was up to it, I would have him get up and walk around the floor. We also spent many times walking the halls playing Pokémon Go.” 

“Pokémon Go was one of my favorite things to do when I was in the hospital,” said Naqi. It was a nice distraction from everything that was going on; sometimes I would even forget where I was.” 

Naqi recently finished up the first stage of treatment and is on schedule for further treatments. He says he’s looking forward to the time when the main part treatment is over and he is in the maintenance phase.

“I can’t wait to go back to school and not have leukemia take up all of my time, said Naqi. “I want to be able to hang out with my friends and take part in different organizations to be able to help others,” he added.